Digital Archive Repository

Digitizing our local history collection.

We continue work to digitize the materials in our local history collection. Many of the photographs we have digitized so far are available in Digital Grinnell, searchable by keyword. Here, you can browse some of the documents and other non-image items in our collection. Document types include PDFs, YouTube videos, and links to materials on websites like archive.org. Topics range from Billy Robinson to the 1882 cyclone to a children’s book by Grinnellian Cornelia Shepard Clarke.

This does not represent the entirety of our collection, only a sampling of the higher interest items we have digitized to this point.

Below, you can browse these materials by six categories–architecture, cyclone, general history, just for fun, library, and people. Each category will take you further below to its materials. At the end of each category’s archives, there is a button that will direct you back up to the six topics. Or, you can scroll through all the categories without using these buttons.

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Try our Property Research page, our Oral Histories page, our Obituary Database, or the Poweshiek History Preservation Project’s archives in Digital Grinnell.

Architecture

YouTube Video

Bridge Restoration: Featuring McIntyre Bowstring and Piano Bridge in Poweshiek County (2012)

“Historic Truss Bridge Restoration: North Skunk River Greenbelt Association,” video shared with permission from Workin’ Bridges and the North Skunk River Greenbelt Association, 46 minutes

YouTube Video

Glove Factory Building History (2013)

“Old Glove Factory Historic Tour – Grinnell, Iowa,” video from the Chamber of Commerce, 1 minute

YouTube Video

Goodnow Hall Historic Tour (2013)

“Goodnow Hall Historic Video Tour – Grinnell, Iowa,” video from the Chamber of Commerce, 2 minutes

YouTube Video

Grinnell Historical Museum History (2013)

“Grinnell Historical Museum Historic Video Tour – Grinnell, Iowa,” video from the Chamber of Commerce, 2 minutes

YouTube Video

Grinnell House History (2013)

“Grinnell House Historic Video Tour – Grinnell, Iowa,” video from the Chamber of Commerce, 2 minutes

YouTube Video

History of St. Francis Manor and Seeland Park (2016)

“St Francis Manor History,” video from St. Francis Manor on history of healthcare in Grinnell, 6 minutes

Images

Poweshiek County Plat Map (1914)

Atlas and Plat Book of Poweshiek County, Iowa, with outline county map, plats of all the townships with owners’ names, plats of all towns in the county, state auto map, United States parcel post map, and others, available from Library of Congress website, 48 images

PDF Document

Preston Opera House (1925)

Article in the Grinnell Herald Register on the Preston opera house, April, 1925, 1 page

YouTube Video

Railroad Depot History (2013)

“depot,” video from the Chamber of Commerce on the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad Grinnell Passenger Station, 1 minute

YouTube Video

Ricker House History (2013)

“Ricker House Historic Tour – Grinnell, Iowa,” video from the Chamber of Commerce on the Benjamin K. Ricker House of Grinnell College, 1 minute

Images

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps (1883, 1888, 1893, 1898, 1906, 1911, 1922, 1932)

Sanborn fire insurance maps from 1883, 1888, 1893, 1898, 1906, 1911, 1922, 1932, of Grinnell, available from Library of Congress website, 102 images

PDF Document

School Buildings of Grinnell History

“History of the Grinnell-Newburg School Facilities” from the Grinnell-Newburg Community School District, building history through 2018, document found in the district office with no date or author, 2 pages

PDF Document

School Buildings of Grinnell History (1980)

“Summary of Grinnell School Facilities as of January 1980,” includes names of buildings, grades served, year built, last year used, and facilities in use in 1969, 1 page

YouTube Video

Spaulding House History (2013)

“Spaulding House Historic Tour – Grinnell, Iowa,” video from the Chamber of Commerce, 2 minutes

YouTube Video

Strand Theater Historic Tour (2013)

“Strand Theater Historic Tour – Grinnell, Iowa,” video from the Chamber of Commerce, 1 minute

YouTube Video

Sullivan Jewel Box Bank History (2013)

“Jewel Box Bank/Merchants National Bank Historic Tour – Grinnell, Iowa,” video from the Chamber of Commerce, 2 minutes

PDF Document

Theatres in Grinnell (1989)

Includes overview of Colonial Theatre, Preston’s Opera House, the Strand, the Bijou, and the article “A ‘Strand’ in Grinnell’s Fabric” written by John R. Kleinschmidt from Grinnell Historic Preservation Commission on the history of the Strand, contains images and scans of news articles, 22 pages

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Cyclone

Images

Cyclone (1882)

Images after the June 17, 1882, tornado in Grinnell, from the Digital Public Library of America, images by Charles Bierstadt, James Everett, and D. H. Cross, 40 images

PDF Document

Cyclone Article (1882)

“The Grinnell Cyclone of June 17, 1882” by S. H. Herrick, from the State Historical Society of Iowa’s The Annals of Iowa, includes direct quotes from eye-witnesses, selections from The Grinnell Herald, a map of the cyclones’ directions, and two poems referencing the cyclone (“The Bells of Grinnell” by Edward Barstow and “Nothing Left” by Helen Campbell), 22 pages

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General History

Archive.org

Chester Township, Historical Sketch (1881)

“A Historical Sketch of Chester Township, Poweshiek County, Iowa, Read at the Quarter-Centennial, July 4, 1881,” by G. H. White, with introductory letter by J. B. Grinnell, 28 pages

Archive.org

Early History of Grinnell, Iowa (1854-1874)

Compiled from the files of the Grinnell Herald from January, February, and March of 1874, published in 1916, chapter topics include: the first visit by J. B. Grinnell, the first cabin at Sugar Creek, the first houses, land for a university, first election, the underground railroad, the first school, spotted fever, churches, Iowa College, and more (table of contents located at end of document), 146 pages

Archive.org

History of Poweshiek County, Volume I (1911)

History of Poweshiek County, Iowa: A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress, and Achievement, Volume I by Prof. L. F. Parker, chapter topics include: the name “Iowa,” pioneering, farming, transportation, organization, officials, schools, Iowa College, the pioneer physician, bench and bar, the press, persons of distinction, blizzards and cyclones, epidemics, the civil war, townships and towns, Grinnell, and more, from The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 497 pages

Archive.org

History of Poweshiek County, Volume II (1911)

History of Poweshiek County, Iowa: A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress, and Achievement, Volume II by Prof. L. F. Parker, biographies of many prominent persons in Grinnell’s history, index of names on page 783, from The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 795 pages

YouTube Video

Grinnell at 150: The Pioneering Spirit (2006)

“Grinnell at 150: The Pioneering Spirit,” on the history of Grinnell, work on this video began during Grinnell’s Sesquicentennial celebration in 2004, produced by the Grinnell Historic Preservation Commission and the Grinnell Tourism Group, 42 minutes

PDF Document

Malcom Centennial Book 1872-1972 (1972)

Malcom Centennial: “Memories Today of Yesterday,” 1872-1972, topics include: histories and mayor list, articles of incorporation, memoirs, churches (Presbyterian, Trinity Lutheran, and Malcom Methodist), schools, alumni, facilities, recollections, businesses, the civil war, organizations, clubs, biographies, and family histories, 197 pages

Archive.org

Old Settler's Association of Grinnell 1896-1901 (1901)

Proceedings of the Old Settlers’ Association of Grinnell, Iowa, Annual Meetings, 1896-1901, 152 pages. This group included people who were the first settlers in Grinnell. These proceedings record their recollections of people and events from the earliest days of this community.

Archive.org

Portrait and Biographical Record of Johnson, Poweshiek, and Iowa Counties (1893)

Portrait and Biographical record of Johnson, Poweshiek and Iowa Counties, Iowa, Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens, also Biographies of the Presidents of the United States, Chapman bros., Chicago, 742 pages

Archive.org

Semi-Centennial of the Founding of Grinnell, 1854-1904 (1904)

Essays and remarks delivered on the semi-centennial, includes speeches by Rev. E. M. Vittum, Henry M. Hamilton, D. O. Mears, Dr. Thomas Holyoke, Prof L. F. Parker, D. W. Norris, J. P. Lyman, John F. Lacey, and more, 141 pages

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Just for Fun

Images

Cornelia Clarke Botanical Photos (1915-1920)

Cornelia Clarke, born in 1884 and raised in Grinnell by her single father after her mother’s death. She taught herself photography at a young age and became a widely published photographer during the era when there were few options for women outside the home.  1100+ glass plate negatives of her work were discovered in the State Historical Society by members of the Grinnell Historical Museum, with a selection of them later brought to Grinnell for digitization. This is a sampling of the collection, many of which may have been used by Dr. Henry Conrad in Grinnell College and University of Iowa Classes botany classes.  Images from the State Historical Research Centers of Iowa, 76 images

For more on Cornelia Clarke see “Grinnell’s Beatrix Potter” by Dan Kaiser and this article on the Year of Cornelia Clarke.

YouTube Video

Farming in Poweshiek County (1970s)

“Een Farm in de Corn-Meat Belt,” a 1970s Belgian documentary on farming in Poweshiek County, commentary in English, 20 minutes

YouTube Video

Grinnell Centennial (1954)

A collection of silent home films showing celebration activities, originally a 16mm silent film by E. R. Small and the Grinnell Herald-Register, clips include views of the reproduction “long home” built in front of the library, skits and presentations, and a parade, 55 minutes

YouTube Video

Grinnell in 1978 (1978)

“’55 MPH’ Public Service Announcement (1978),” a public service announcement advocating for the 55 MPH campaign, 1 minute

YouTube Video

Grinnell in 2006 (2006)

“Grinnell, Iowa promotional video 2006,” footage includes businesses, residential, and aerial views of the people and places of Grinnell, shared with permission form the Grinnell Chamber of Commerce, produced by the Grinnell Visitors Bureau, 4 minutes

PDF Document

The Newburg Story (1958)

“Case of the Vanishing Village” by Eleanor Ragsdale and Curt Harnack, with photos by Joan Liffring, on the city of Newburg, topics include the history of the town and its decline as a center of community, includes 10 images, from Iowan Magazine of January 1958, 7 pages

PDF Document

Peter and Polly (1912)

Children’s book by Elizabeth Hays Wilkinson with some of the earliest photographs taken by Grinnellian Cornelia Clarke, taken of her cats Peter and Polly. The series of photographs was originally published in a magazine. This story was written to match the photos which were colorized for the book publication. This item is also available in Digital Grinnell, from Doubleday, New York, 116 pages

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Library

YouTube Video

Library Fundraising Video (2006)

“2006 Grinnell Public Library Campaign,” shows scenes in Stewart Library in 2006, describes the overcrowded conditions and the need to build a new library in Grinnell, part of the Next Chapter fundraising campaign to build the new Drake Community Library (opened in 2009), 7 minutes

YouTube Video

Library Storytime at Stewart Library (1990s)

“Storytime at Stewart Library early 1990s,” features Debbie Pohlson reading to a group of children as Peter Pan and Ellie Arsenault reading to her two young children, 39 minutes

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People

YouTube Video

African Americans of Early Grinnell. State Historical Society of Iowa presentation by Dan Kaiser (2020)

Dan Kaiser presents on his research related to African Americans in early Grinnell. The stories he uncovered, all of which were originally published as a part of his Grinnell Stories blog, were compiled into a book in 2020 entitled “Grinnell Stories: African Americans of Early Grinnell”.

PDF Document

Billy Robinson: Birdman of the Prairie (2014)

Biography of aviator Billy Robinson detailing his childhood in South Dakota and life in Grinnell, article in Iowa Heritage Illustrated, includes 2 images, 5 pages

PDF Document

Billy Robinson Story (1954)

Article in Grinnell: A Century of Progress, specifically details the 1916 plane crash of aviator Billy Robinson that led to his death, 4 pages

YouTube Video

Birdman of the Prairie: The Life and Death of an Iowan Aviator (Billy Robinson) (2013)

Billy Robinson documentary film created by Natalie Vander Ploeg for the National History Day Documentary Contest of 2013, includes an overview of his accomplishments and his death attempting to se a new altitude record, 10 minutes

PDF Document

Civil War Grave Registry

From the Poweshiek Country Soldiers Relief Commission, individuals’ armed forces graves registration records filed by the Soldiers Relief Commission, 581 pages (large file, allow time to load)

YouTube Video

Edith Renfrow Smith Video Interview (2015)

Interview at Drake Community Library with Smith, the first African American woman to graduate from Grinnell College in 1937, also available on the Other Oral Histories page, 45 minutes

PDF Document

Harriet Grinnell Dunham Letter on Early Grinnell (1954)

“A Letter about the ‘Old Days,'” from Harriet Grinnell Dunham to her great granddaughter Abbie Dillon Bleamaster, based upon Dunham’s recollections and the stories from her family, 36 pages

PDF Document

Joanna Harris Haines: Recollections of Seventy Years in Iowa. (1945)

“A Letter about the ‘Old Days,'” from Harriet Grinnell Dunham to her great granddaughter Abbie Dillon Bleamaster, based upon Dunham’s recollections and the stories from her family, 36 pages

Archive.org

J.B. Grinnell - Men and Events of Forty Years (1891)

Men and Events of Forty Years: Autobiographical Reminiscences of an Active Career from 1850 to 1890 by Josiah Bushnell (JB) Grinnell, written in his last days with a preface by Professor Henry W. Parker, chapter topics include: birthplace, ancestry, as a student, Auburn Theological Seminary, Washington society, state senator, the Civil War, Congress, the Thirteenth Amendment, reconstruction, Freedman’s Bureau, people Grinnell had met, Iowa and Iowans, Native Americans, prohibition, railroads, agricultural affairs, Grinnell University and Iowa College, the cyclone of 1882, the Cherokee Neutral Land Purchase, the Grinnell Quarter Centennial Celebration, and more, 460 pages

PDF Document

Rose Stoops Journal, Story of her Life 1895-1987 (1989)

Edie Rose Stoops: Her Story, 1895-1987, an autobiography by Stoops, topics include: her childhood, her children, church, her family, her journeys, and more, includes biographies of her parents as well (Walter Ellsworth Edie and Mary Alice Flesher Edie), also available on Digital Grinnell, 45 pages

YouTube Video

Testaments: Voices from the Past (1992)

“Testaments: Voices from the Past – The Depression and World War II,” a part of the Friends of Stewart Library (now Drake Community Library) oral history project “Voices from the Past,” interviewees include Anna Ramsey, Sid Potts, Martin Pearce, Augusta Pederson, Dick Sears and Grant O. Gale, 28 minutes

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